My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for India Development and Relief Fund Inc, N Bethesda, MD, USA
Few other charities have done better than India Development and Relief
Fund (IDRF) for the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of the Society
in India, tribals in particular, irrespective of the caste, creed and religion. We
have known Sarla and Vinod Prakash for over half a century: we were taken
aback when he decided to give up his high profile job at the World Bank, and
both plunged themselves into founding IDRF. We also followed the trials and
tribulations that IDRF overcame over the past quarter of a century.
We were fortunate to visit some of IDRF’s development projects and would
like to recall our impressions.
The IDRF-funded high school near Delhi is educating 350 underprivileged
children, most of them the first in their families to go school. In spite of their
poor backgrounds, they competed with the best schools in Delhi and achieved
excellent academic results. When we visited, the computer lab was filled with
bright faced youngsters. The dedication of the teachers was exemplary. At the
lunch break, simple vegetarian food was served to the children and staff sitting
cross-legged on the ground.
Our visit to Gwalior was also educational. We saw a tribal boys’ hostel and a
local fundraising event to build a tribal girls’ hostel. Two events touched our
heart at this event: One was the offer by two people of Indian origin, who were
visiting from Africa, to match the funds raised. Second was the offer of Rs.
100,000 from students at the local industrial institute. They had raised half the
amount from their peers and then begged their Principal for the other half.
IDRF provided critical support to the primary school in our ancestral village. Of
the 250 students enrolled at the school, 30-40% were Muslims. It is the top-
rated primary school in the village of 18 schools, with English medium and new
initiatives. It emphasizes ethics and close contacts with children’s families. It
has a computer lab, a rarity for a primary school. The cultural performances by
the children were heart-warming. We trust these children will make excellent
citizens when they grow up.
IDRF supported the Arpana’s Health & Women’s Empowerment Programme
in Karnal, Haryana. This ashram has a very wide reach in surrounding rural and
illiterate communities. We were impressed by the organisation and dedication
of the field workers.
IDRF helped sponsor the Chitrakoot Project. Founded by the late Nanaji
Deshmukh, is a model project for the overall social development of villages. It
is one of the most internationally-recognised programmes. Surprisingly many
highly-qualified people of Indian origin chose work here rather than taking
high-paying jobs overseas.
We realise that we only saw a small slice of IDRF’s work; over the years it has
raised millions of dollars for development and disaster relief. We pray that
India – our Bharat Mata - has some more dedicated individuals like Vinod and
organisations like IDRF.
New Delhi October 27, 2013
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